Government revamps on anti-social behaviour unveiled

Back of police officer in high vis jacket

7.tifPolice, local councils and other agencies face a new crackdown on anti-social behaviour under Government plans outlined in the Queen’s Speech.

The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill outlined measures that would see 19 existing powers replaced with six. The focus is placed on the rights of victims and aims to speed up action in dealing with persistent anti-social behaviour.

The revamp signals the end of much-criticised Asbo’s and a new ‘Community Trigger’ means agencies will be forced to act if five households make a complaint about anti-social behaviour.

Victims and communities will also have a greater say in out-of-court sanctions for offenders through new restorative justice measures.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Police reform is working and crime continues to fall. We have swept away central targets, reduced bureaucracy and introduced Police and Crime Commissioners to make the police more accountable.

“Today we are delivering on our pledges to give victims of anti-social behaviour a stronger voice, further cut crime and improve the relationship between the public and police.”

The Bill is expected to receive Royal Assent by Spring 2014 and also includes measures to tackle the use of illegal firearms by gangs and groups of organised criminals. Irresponsible dog ownership and forced marriage protection are also included under the Bill.

Gloria De Piero MP, Labour’s shadow Home Office minister, criticised the launch of the new bill and stated the ‘Community Trigger’ was “not the answer” to dealing with anti-social behaviour. Data from pilots showed the trigger was activated only once in Manchester in almost a year, five times in Brighton and never activated at all in Richmond during the period.

She said: “Theresa May proposes to abolish the Asbo and replace it with the weaker IPNA. Breach of an Asbo was a criminal offence. Breach of the new IPNA will not be. We also know that too many people are still waiting too long for their anti-social behaviour complaints to be dealt with.

“The Home Secretary’s proposed community trigger is not the answer. Recommending that people have to wait until five complaints have been made before action does not reflect the misery that can be caused by anti-social behaviour.

“The Government needs to be on the side of the victims of anti-social behaviour not making it more difficult for them to get the help they need. Weakening powers and delaying action is no way to deal with such a serious issue.”

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